A HIPAA violation is a failure to comply with HIPAA regulations. This post explains in greater detail what this means, what the consequences are and how you can prevent such a violation from occurring.
What is HIPAA
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA laws were first put in place in 1996.
These laws regulate the use and disclosure of protected health information in the United States. They help to ensure that health information is not shared with people who do not rightfully have access, as well as ensuring that health records are kept accurate.
All healthcare services in the US must comply with these laws. All businesses that have access to patient information must also comply.
Why do I need to be HIPAA compliant?
All businesses with access to patient information must comply with HIPAA regulation or face a penalty. While many HIPAA violations are deliberate, it is possible to unknowingly violate HIPAA. This is why it’s important to do your research and protect yourself.
What happens if I violate the compliance guidelines?
A HIPAA violation is typically viewed as a civil offence. However, there are cases where it can be viewed as a criminal offence.
Those who unknowingly violate HIPAA usually receive a minimum $100 fine per violation. Additional penalties may be filed if a defendant continues to violate HIPAA.
Intentional HIPAA violations can carry much more severe penalties including a fine of up to $50,000 and up to one year in prison. These include violations such as snooping on employee health records and sharing private health information.
How is it resolved?
HIPAA regulations are enforced by OCR. An investigation is made into the extent of the non-compliance and a penalty is then issued depending on the findings.
Most HIPAA violations are resolved informally. More serious violations may require going to court (these types of violations are typically punished with heftier fines or jail time).
How can it be prevented?
HIPAA violations can be prevented by taking measures to ensure that your company is HIPAA compliant.
There are a few basic rules to follow in order to prevent HIPAA violations.
- Never access employee patient health records out of curiosity. Only healthcare workers with legal privileges are allowed to access these records.
- Do not share login details or passwords related to employee health records.
- Do not leave health information documents unattended.
- Do not share health information on social media (even photographs and videos).
- Take measures to secure health information from cyberattacks.
The last rule is becoming particularly more important as the risk of cyberattacks against businesses increases. By hiring the help of an IT company, you can make sure that all employee health information is kept secure.
An IT company will know exactly which digital measures are required to stay HIPAA compliant. They’ll also be able to help with general cybersecurity and IT support in all areas of your business.
Start looking into managed IT services today in order to make your company HIPAA compliant.